How to Get Politically Involved in College
Angeline Rosato | 5/15/15 8:40pm
| Updated 5/15/15 8:46pm
Want to immerse yourself into the world of politics? Look no further: DC is one of the best places in the nation to get involved. Here are some of the best ways to join the action.
- Intern. There are so many opportunities to intern in DC—89 percent of AU’s undergraduate class of 2013 participated in an internship. Whether for the government, a nonprofit organization, the private sector, or lobbying, intern to boost your resume, get valuable work experience, and take advantage of the city. Databases such as usajobs.gov and idealist.org are great places to start your search.
- Attend events in DC. As the center of our nation’s politics, DC is probably home to hundreds of political events every day. Think tanks frequently hold panels, discussions, and events on pressing national and international issues. Political organizations host conventions and conferences, such as the American Conservative Union’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference. Media groups, international nonprofits, and major corporations such as Google love getting involved in politics by hosting ritzy events for the DC elite. And prominent speakers are constantly hitting the DC circuit to share their views on policy and politics.
- Volunteer. There is an endless number of community service organizations related to politics in DC—all you have to do is look around! Using NeighborGood (http://serve.dc.gov/service/neighborgood), you can find a project or organization that resonates with you. Additionally, nonprofits and philanthropic organizations are usually looking for extra help running their events.
- Participate in a rally or a march. Demonstrations concerning a wide range of political issues on Capitol Hill and at the National Mall happen all the time. Use Facebook, local news sources, and activist blogs to stay up-to-date on what’s coming next.
- Jump on a campaign. Joining a campaign is probably one of the most valuable (albeit worst-paid) experiences you can get as a student interested in politics. Between local DC elections to statewide elections in Maryland and Virginia, there’s truly no shortage of campaigns to choose from. If campaigns aren’t your thing, you can try to get in on the ground floor in a congressman’s Capitol Hill office or a congressional committee.
Want to stay closer to campus while pursuing politics? Here are some on-campus options to consider:
- Join Student Government. AU’s Student Government is one of the largest organizations on campus and prides itself on making a difference on campus through advocacy, engagement, and events. It holds the yearly Founders’ Day Ball, lists job postings on the Jobs and Internships Board, brings in popular speakers through the Kennedy Political Union, and so much more. Apply for a cabinet position, run for the Undergraduate Senate, or join a commission or council.
- Join clubs and organizations. AU College Democrats and AU College Republicans are two of the best-known political clubs at American, but there are plenty more to check out! AU Young Americans for Liberty, Youth and Government, and Amnesty International are only three of the many others that exist on campus to promote policies and political agendas.
- Attend on-campus events. AU College Dems, AU College Republicans, and AU School of Public Affairs held a conference on March 21 called Youth Voices at AU, a training event involving political campaigning and including various guest speakers. Former First Lady Laura Bush received her 2015 Wonk of the Year award on April 8. Senator Bernie Sanders visited AU on April 13. The campus is constantly bustling with activities including politicians and experts in the realm of politics. Within the respective schools are also institutes and research centers that often hold lecture series and guest speakers.
- Take a class. To fulfill the university’s General Education curriculum, students can take courses such as SISU-105 World Politics, GOVT-110 Politics in the US, and WGSS-225 Gender, Politics, and Power. Outside of Gen-Ed courses are many other politics and government classes. Higher level courses include Campaign Management Institute (SPA), Political Communications (SOC), and Analysis of US Foreign Policy (SIS). Academic advisors in each school are generally a good resources to use when selecting the right courses, but upperclassmen and graduate students also have plenty of advice to offer on what classes to take!
- Volunteer. You can serve your community through AU, too! Check out the Center for Community Engagement and Service for a list of volunteer opportunities. Participate in one-day service events, such as the MLK Day of Service or Dr. Seuss Day. Consider joining a service organization such as the AU Lions Club, Alpha Phi Omega, or SG’s Community Service Coalition. Volunteering is not only a fun way to meet new people—it’s also a fulfilling way to give back to your community.
In 2014, the Princeton Review named American University the #4 school in the United States with the most politically active students. How involved will you be this year?